Brown County Weekend Backpacks Report for 2020
Food for students on the weekends started by two retired teachers
Brown County Weekend Backpacks is a community-led program to keep children fed with nutritious food all weekend long throughout the school year. We are a 501c3 organization in Brown County. This organization was started at Nashville United Methodist Church by two retired teachers, Linda Todd a Wisconsin retired teacher and Jan Swigert an Indiana retired teacher (both members of BCRTA) and the social concerns committee. It soon became too large for one church to continue and it was developed into a community organization with a board of directors, all volunteer. Jan Swigert is the board president and Linda is the secretary and food donation chairperson.
It is so important that our children in Brown County have all the advantages possible to succeed in their education and a child that is hungry has less ability to concentrate and learn in school. We have learned there are many consequences and correlations between what you eat, how you feel and how you ultimately behave. Nutritional status can directly affect mental capacity among school age children. Good nutrition helps students show up at school prepared to learn. Studies show that malnutrition leads to behavioral problems. With children consuming a more balanced diet, student behavior improves causing fewer disruptions in the classroom, creating a better learning environment for each student in the class.
We pack bags of food each week starting in September of the school year. There are 4 different teams of volunteers that meet on Wednesdays to pack the bags. Each team is made up of 8 to 15 members from churches and individuals in the community. Many of these volunteers are retired teachers.
The Brown County schools that participate in this program are Helmsburg and Sprunica Elementary, BC Intermediate, Junior High and High School. Van Buren Elementary is serviced by another group. We also give bags of food to the HeadStart students. Our volunteers and the school corporation (often Jason Kirchhofer) deliver the bags to the schools each Friday to be given out to the students for the weekend. We have been packing around 150 bags of food this school year.
Our pantry where we store our food and pack the bags is at Nashville United Methodist Church. Some of our food is donated. Eleven churches, and organizations, and 3 individuals each donate a specific food. BCWB buys the rest of the food that we give to the students. We have 4 different menus that are packed with breakfast, lunch and dinner items, enough for 2 days plus 2 snacks and a fresh fruit. We are trying to model nutritious food as well as give food that will be easy to prepare for the student.
To give you an idea of how much food we packed last school year, we weighed the bags each week for a month and then found the average weight which was 7.25 lbs. We then noted the number bags we packed and found that we packed 31,479.5 pounds of food or 15.74 tons of food. That is a lot of food for a lot of children in our county. Last year we were grateful for our food donations but we still had to purchase over $17,000 worth of food.
Our Fundraiser for the year has been a Touch a Truck Event at the High School the last Saturday in June. We made about $8500 at this event and plan to have one again this next summer with a goal of $10,000. If you want to be a part of this event with your truck or car, become a sponsor or help in organizing, we would love your help. We make our money by getting sponsors to fund the event and then it is free to the children.
Many volunteers help to make this organization successful in feeding students good nutritious food on the weekends so they are ready to come back to school on Monday.
BCRTA Secret Garden at the Brown County Health and Living Community for 2019-2020
When we arrived at our Secret Garden in the Memory Care Wing of BCHL last May we discovered to our delight that the yard crew had cleaned out all of the dead plants and debris from winter and trimmed the bushes. What a tremendous help! It was ready for planting. We planted flowers donated by Peggy Kelp from Kelp’s Greenhouse along with other private donations. We are so thankful for these beautiful donations! At our May BCRTA meeting we had enough money donated to buy two large sturdy planters to replace the aging broken ones and also some extra flowers for the garden.
Each week throughout the summer, individuals or teams of BCRTA members came to the garden to water, weed, and deadhead flowers. Sometimes we did our work around a group of people from the memory care wing enjoying the outdoor garden and sunshine. What a blessing to see the pleasure the residents and health care staff got from our flower garden!
Ways We Volunteer:
Tutoring in local schools
Brown County Public Library
Brown County Humane Society
Brown County Historical Society
Brown County Literacy Coalition
Brown County Children’s Weekend Backpack Program
Brown County Playhouse
Brown County Health and Living Center
Brown County Health and Living Center ‘Secret Garden’
Brown County Community Foundation
Brown County Music Center
Habitat for Humanity
Middle Way House
Transportation to Doctor’s or therapy appointments
Just Do Something campaign against addiction